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  • » 11/18/2010, 00.00


    China-India bound to clash over dams on the Brahmaputra

    China’s plans to build a dam on the Yarlung Zangbo (Brahmaputra) River continue. Experts think Beijing is planning dozens of dams in Tibet to power the economies rich economies of southern China or sell abroad.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China’s plans for a dam on the Yarlung Zangbo River, high up on the Tibetan plateau, continue. Beijing can expect however staunch opposition from India, where the river is known as the Brahmaputra and is crucial for farming and the lives of millions of people.

    Hydro-electrical engineers have been hard at work building a dam on the highest river of the world, a feat estimated at 7.5 billion yuan, which is expected to generate 510 megawatts by 2014, providing power to central Tibet.

    For its part, India is deeply concerned that China might reduce the flow of water on its territory, negatively affecting its agriculture and the livelihoods of millions of people.

    New Delhi is especially angry that Beijing has not revealed its plans. Even the number of dams to be built is unknown. Some have suggested there could be at least five dams, four in Jiacha Canyon, with a capacity many times greater than the Three Gorges Dam Project.

    The issue is expected to be on the table for discussion when Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao visits New Delhi next month.

    In the meantime, India has accelerated construction of a large number of dams on the Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh near its disputed border with China in a bid to secure first-use rights over the waters of the river, some academics said.

    Scientists and environmentalists are equally worried about the impact on the environment of Chinese plans.

    Fan Xiao, a Sichuan-based geologist, warns that the Yarlung Zangbo River dam project is very likely the first in a series. Beijing in fact appears bent on damming all of Tibet’s main rivers.

    However, Fan is concerned because such plans are driven by short-term economic considerations, and that this frenzy will have long-term environmental, political and international consequences.

    Some reports have suggested that electricity generated from the Zangmu plant would help meet growing demand in Guangdong and Hong Kong and that it could be sold to countries like Myanmar, Thailand and Bangladesh.

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    See also

    01/05/2010 CHINA – TIBET – INDIA
    China to build dams in quake-prone Tibetan regions
    Tensions are rising over Beijing’s decision to build a dam on the Yarlung Zangbo-Brahmaputra River. Geologists slam the decision because of the strong danger of earthquakes in the area. India also fears that China might be planning to divert the river’s waters towards its territory. China appears set to go.

    06/09/2010 CHINA – TIBET
    A five-star hotel planned for the entrance of a Tibetan canyon
    The Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) River flows in the canyon. The vice president of the Tibet tourist company announces the project. However, breathtaking views hide dangers such avalanches and flash floods.

    11/07/2011 INDIA – CHINA – TIBET
    The difficult relationship between India and China over the Brahmaputra River
    India is concerned about Chinese plans to divert the river’s waters. So far, Beijing has avoided discussing the issue with New Delhi. An expert talks about the thorny issue, which could lead to open conflict or renewed cooperation between the two nations.

    08/10/2012 VIETNAM - CHINA
    Experts warn China's fifth Mekong dam will have a "devastating" impact
    Beijing just finished a plant capable of generating 24,000 GW in Yunnan province. A US study indicates it will cause "huge damages" to agriculture, fishing and human life. The river flow might be altered and seawater might flood its delta.

    20/10/2010 LAOS – VIETNAM – CHINA
    Calls for a moratorium on Mekong dam building that destroy environment and people
    Laos and Cambodia are planning to build dams to generate electrical power for sale. China, which already has four big dams upstream, is accused of taking too much water. The river’s ecosystems and the lives of 65 million people are at risk. Vietnam and Thailand are not against a US role in the matter.

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